A European Perspective
Edited by Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery
Chapter 6: Life Course Transitions in Hungary Before and After the Societal Transformation
Zsolt Spéder, Balázs Kapitány and László Neumann INTRODUCTION In their fully developed state, modern welfare state regimes distinguish between three main life stages in all modern societies: the preemployment, employment and post-employment periods (Kohli 1985). This tripartite division was also characteristic of the former state socialist countries. Moreover, by suppressing individuality the state socialist redistributive systems made the tripartite division a more general phenomenon. Since unemployment was ‘eliminated’, there were no disruptions to the central employment period while pre-employment education and training was both unified and universal and the pension payments to finance post-employment old age had also gradually become universal. Female employment was radically extended, which was made possible by the establishment of a comprehensive system of family policy institutions (see section on ‘Profound changes in occupational careers’, p. 194 this chapter for details). Female life courses began to closely resemble male ones, though significant differences, for example maternity support for women, continued to exist. The profound social, economic and political transformation that occurred between 1989 and 1990 brought the employment system closer to the one working in western Europe. The changes in Hungary have had very different effects by cohort and gender. Most people falling within the ‘middle+’ (40+) cohort experienced the transition as a kind of an external shock that completely disrupted their career perspectives. Naturally, this process has opened up new opportunities for the younger cohorts, first of all for those who entered into the labour market immediately before the transition. Gender...
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